Q&A: Johanna Lopez Miyaki On New Mini Park Initiative

The lead organizer of Friends of the OMI Mini Parks talks about organizing and fundraising for the neighborhood's pocket parks.

Neighborhood activist
Johanna Lopez Miyaki at the Randolph Bright Mini Park. Anne Marie Thompson/Ingleside Light
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A new community group is working to regularly maintain and improve the neighborhood’s pocket parks.

Johanna Lopez Miyaki and a band of neighbors, who have used the We Are OMI Nextdoor group to engage the community over the years, formed a fiscally sponsored group called Friends of the OMI Mini Parks to work on the Randolph Bright, Brotherhood Head and Lakeview Ashton mini parks.

This month, the Friends held an online t-shirt fundraiser called “Support Our OMI Mini Parks!” to bolster their project.

Lopez Miyaki, a freelancer and media worker at KALW, said the group will host a number of community events. The first is a cleanup and storytime this Saturday morning at the Brotherhood Head Mini Park organized in partnership with OMI Cultural Participation Project and the San Francisco Public Library Ocean View Branch.

Other plans include working with city hall to help unhoused people get resources in the neighborhood since those services are concentrated downtown and improving transit and pedestrian safety.

The Ingleside Light caught up with Lopez Miyaki at one of the mini parks to learn more about the group’s efforts.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

What are Friends of the OMI Mini Parks and We Are OMI?

We Are OMI started right around the pandemic. A couple of neighbors and I we're seeing a lot of things that we didn't like that we wanted to help change on Randolph as well as other parts of OMI. We started a Nextdoor group and started hearing from other people who were vocal about the things they didn't like. We just started working together to find solutions.

Friends of OMI Mini Parks came along a few months ago. The steering committee is comprised of me, Mandy Leung, Alyssa Cheung and Maurice Rivers. We're a small team right now. This is volunteer work so we understand people only have a finite amount of time so we take whatever people can give.

What is the project that you and your team are working on?

We're launching a Storytime in the Park series with the library over the summer. They do the storytimes at the library [and] because of Covid, they’ve been doing them outdoors.

The first one is on July 16 at the Brotherhood Head Mini Park. It'll start with a volunteer cleanup at the park, including the surrounding area, and then we'll have storytime at 11 a.m. followed by playtime and refreshments. Volunteers are welcome to stay for the whole thing. It's just something fun for the kids.

Why is this effort important?

We can bring people together. The community cleanup is like our way of always reinforcing care for your community, have pride in your community but also to make sure that the space is shipshape because we don't want it to be unwelcoming when the kids and their caregivers come.

What I'm trying to do is zoom back in to right here on my Randolph-Broad corridor, creating these two anchors with the parks to provide gatherings places that not only create community building but also support the idea of neighborhood pride, neighborhood beautification and safety.

What are some of your other plans?

I met with Rebuilding Together SF and they’re moving toward more community engagement and revitalization. We're talking about short-term and long-term partnerships, starting with these parks. Parks are public goods, right? If you return them to the public, to the community to use, they can actually use them.

What do you want the community to know about your work?

We're working on behalf of our OMI community so that if they want to provide input, they can go to our Nextdoor page or they can email we.are.omi@gmail.com and tell us whatever they want to share such as insights, information and feedback.

We’re really grateful to our District 11 Supervisor’s office because they’ve been really supportive in helping us make connections. It's not something that I started out just wanting to stop littering and dumping. Two years later, I have these two groups that I’m deeply involved in but deeply grateful that I have the opportunity to do it.

Friends of the OMI Mini Parks

Date: Saturday, July 16, 2022

Time: 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

More information: Visit the event website

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